Saturday, July 31, 2010

Great moments from The Wire if any moments from the The Wire weren't great ones, but still:

I love that the smartest police on the whole team, Clark Peters's masterful Lester Freamon, has the most diverse drinking habits: from one show to another he drinks Jameson, Guinness (in the nitrogen bottle, thereby confirming that Lester knows an American pour sucks), and Red Stripe (Jamaica).

The point is that Lester is the best police on the team because he pays attention to details and never loses patience or gives up. If you can't pay attention to your beer you probably can't pay attention to a wiretap either.

Nice touch.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Music is the weapon of the future" --Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti said that. In this performance, the great Hugh Masekela, who wrote the song for the magnificent stage show Sarafina!, about the children-led protests of the Soweto Riots, proves it.

I was playing this song, with my brother-in-music Dr Jolt, in Bloomington IN, in Jif & the Choosy Mothers, the night that Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, after twenty-seven years.

As Andy Irvine said, "You all have to sing very very loud, because fascists are very very deaf."

Gandhi said: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

And, to paraphrase the great Emma Goldman, we going to be dancing all the way.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Engaged and Integrated Scholar"

Requested responses to university Provost's "Engaged and Integrated Scholars" series feature. Surprising how much more honest you can be when you've got tenure:

1. What is your research objective/interest(s)?

American and African-American Music, 20th Century Music, Irish traditional music and other folk musics and cultures, improvisation, music and politics, performance practice, historical performance.
To do work as a research scholar which enriches historical understanding, empowers communities, and overcomes cultural boundaries.
2. How do you feel your research impacts the globe?
In my research, I am a proponent of Patrick Geddes's dictum to "Think globally, but act locally". I believe scholars should recognize wider impact and responsibility for their work, not only within their own disciplines, but also as part of wider research communities and, indeed, as part of all communities worldwide. Because my own work is especially engaged with the histories of marginalized, colonized, ostracized, and working-class musics, it also engages issues of politics, race, class, and power and I am particularly aware of my responsibilities in these areas.
3. Where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired by my own teachers and predecessors, within and beyond the field of musicology, who have modeled for me the combination of rigor, curiosity, insight, sensitivity, and work-ethic which I strive to realize in my own work. My own teachers J. Peter Burkholder, Austin Caswell, Thomas J Mathiesen, Thomas Binkley, and Richard Bauman were giant intellects and inspirations. Beyond musicology, I am inspired by the poetics of Gary Snyder and Peter Mathiessen, the spiritual insights of Dainin Katagiri Roshi and Thomas Merton, and the stunning beauty and emotional depth I have found in many different forms of traditional music. As Bob Dylan said, "traditional music will teach you everything you need to know to live. If you let it."
4. What type(s) of service projects do you enjoy doing?
I am acutely aware of the unusual privilege I enjoy as a a white, male, tenured, heterosexual college professor. That privilege--though hard-earned and many years in coming--obligates me to work to help others. I donate my time writing, teaching, playing, and speaking as much as I possibly can. Possibly the most gratifying service projects of all are those in which, through teaching, I am privileged to help people become participants in the creation of their own artistic lives.
5. What projects are you currently working on?
My primary current research project is a large-scale scholarly monograph on the earliest roots of blackface minstrelsy, the early 19th century street idiom which synthesized African-American and Anglo-Celtic styles to create the first great American popular music. I am also heavily involved in expanding the range and visibility of the work done by my own Vernacular Music Center, and the activities of the Celtic Ensemble, a unique ensemble among North American music conservatory programs.
6. What advice do you have for new faculty members on balancing all of the components of an integrated scholar into their careers (academics, research, service)?
Although I would certainly not think of myself as exemplifying effective integration of al these elements--I am acutely aware of my own limitations and inefficiencies--I have found the following dicta to be practical and useful:
  • Cultivate the ability to concentrate closely in short bursts of time. Available time for one's own research is never sufficiently great and it is always prone to interruption; therefore, it is important to be able to muster concentration in shorter bursts.
  • Related to the above: identify those patterns in your calendar and schedule in which your concentration is best and most suited for certain types of activities, and protect those times for your own work. I get up at 4:30AM, six days a week, for this reason.
  • Develop a physical and a spiritual discipline. Do something outdoors and something physical every day. I bicycle, garden, do yoga and martial arts.
  • Invest effort not only in your own work, but also in communicating and collaborating with colleagues, making sure that they know what you are working on. Work a little bit harder and be a little bit friendlier--this pays large dividends.
7. Lastly, please provide us with some background information to help people get to know you. What is your official title, educational background and hometown?
I am Associate Professor of Musicology; I serve as Chair of Musicology, director of the Vernacular Music Center, and director of the Celtic Ensemble. I hold a BA (Music) from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master's in Music (Jazz Studies) and Ph.D. in Musicology, from Indiana University. I was born on the north shore of Massachusetts, in a small town called Marblehead (home of the painting The Spirit of '76), but have lived, worked, and played music in Cambridge MA, Manhattan, Chicago, and New Orleans, as well. My wife Dharmonia (also professor of Musicology at the university) and I lived in southern Indiana for 12 years, and here in Lubbock since 2000, but my heart is still in the foothills and seashores of northern New England.

Learning to really dig it when my own students come up with music/nerd jokes we did back in the day, viz: "International House of Purcell".

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"The collective intelligence of a wine flask"

Marc Ambinder nails the Republican "leadership":

The Republicans want to be mayors of crazy-town. They've embraced a fringe and proto-racist isolationist and ignorant conservative populism that has no solutions for fixing anything and the collective intelligence of a wine flask.
No great surprise there. It's the same thing they did in '56 and after in attempting to shut down the Civil Rights movement. Equally stupid as a long-term policy, but in the short term, it led to lynchings, bombings, and a whole lot of needless suffering.

Probably will this time, too.

The world's greatest newspaper and the greatest-ever TV program: the Guardian UK's episode-by-episode guide to The Wire:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Music is magic

Every kind of awesome. These folks have been married sixty-two years.

All created and uncreated phenomena arise, flourish, and pass away. But love endures.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jesus, what the FUCK is up with these people?!?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Next to me on regional jet: gray ponytail, earrings, bifocals, Dick (whoremonger) Morris's "Taking Back America" (sic). Another ex-hippie who drank the Tea.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Home. For about 8 hours. Then out again, to O'Flaherty Youth Camp (D/FW)

Friday, July 09, 2010

More evidence that animals are better than humans:

Saturday, July 03, 2010

On the road again: Houston, Amsterdam, Terschelling; keynote: "Afro-Celtic Musical Exchange in the Age of Sail"

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Five worst EVER: Johnson, Buchanan, Harding, Pierce, and GWB. Way to go, Junior: you finally excelled: at WORST.